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We're All Down to Four Degrees of Separation, Thanks to Facebook

You are now that much closer to Kevin Bacon. A recent study showed that Facebook has reduced the "Six Degrees of Separation" - the distance between you and any other person on Earth - down to four:

Using state-of-the-art algorithms developed at the Laboratory for Web Algorithmics of the Università degli Studi di Milano, we were able to approximate the number of hops between all pairs of individuals on Facebook. We found that six degrees actually overstates the number of links between typical pairs of users: While 99.6% of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), 92% are connected by only four degrees (5 hops). And as Facebook has grown over the years, representing an ever larger fraction of the global population, it has become steadily more connected. The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops, while now it is 4.74.

Thus, when considering even the most distant Facebook user in the Siberian tundra or the Peruvian rainforest, a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of their friend. When we limit our analysis to a single country, be it the US, Sweden, Italy, or any other, we find that the world gets even smaller, and most pairs of people are only separated by 3 degrees (4 hops).

Link - via Mashable


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This is utter dreck and wouldn't even qualify for the Annals of Improbable Research. "Friending" on Facebook has no correlation to whether or not people are acquainted, as Sharyn points out above.
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I'd think they were a bit less "connected" degrees though.

Six degrees based on the fact that you actually "know" someone as in you'd met them or you'd had some sort of relationship with them over time would have to be more useful in real terms.

A looser we're FB friends because we met at a seminar once, or we play the same game or I liked your profile pic might get you there quicker, but with less chance of any meaningful exchange.
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